Healthy Baby Diet, Foods
All new parents want to provide their baby with the best possible start, so that they have a healthy body and mind. A good way to begin is to inculcate healthy eating habits right from the beginning. For this, it is best to educate yourself and introduce your baby to fresh, natural foods. A healthy baby diet beginning at birth and continuing until 12 months of age enables infants to grow and develop in a proper manner. During this period, infants are introduced to many different kinds of foods which will keep them in good health in the future.
A healthy diet for babies must consist of the correct foods in the right amounts. Babies undergo rapid growth during the first year of life. In the first 6 months, babies need to gain about an ounce of weight daily. Following that, half an ounce daily until the age of one year is proper.
Reasons for a healthy baby diet:
- A healthy diet will ensure the right quantities and proper nutrition, leading to optimum physical and mental growth of your baby.
- It creates a strong foundation, and helps your baby make the right healthy food choices, later in life.
- A healthy diet will prevent obesity in later life.
- As you introduce new foods to your baby, it helps you to monitor any allergies baby may have and thus be able to avoid those.
New Born Baby Diet
A new born baby diet consists solely of breast milk. Babies do not require any additional nutritional supplements during this time as breast milk provides all the essential vitamins, minerals, protein, fat and carbohydrates. It also supplies important enzymes and antibodies which enable proper digestion and keep the baby protected from illnesses. Between birth and 12 months of age, the diet should not include cow’s milk, goat’s milk or evaporated milk. These types of milk do not provide the same nutrition as breast milk and are also difficult to digest. Also avoid feeding fruit juice, sodas or any other liquids besides breast milk and formula. Once the baby is able to drink from a cup, small quantities of fruit juice may be given. Too many sweet liquids can lead to dental problems in infants. Foods such as honey, raw egg and corn syrup contain germs and can cause sickness in babies. Other foods to be avoided in a healthy baby food diet include raw vegetables, raisins, nuts, grapes and sticky foods which are difficult to swallow. When a baby is being fed exclusively on breast milk, he does not even require water. Breast milk is enough to keep the infant well hydrated. Sometimes an infant may require water especially during hot weather or if he has diarrhea. In such cases, it is advisable to consult your pediatrician regarding the right amount of liquid that should be given to the child. All foods are new to a baby and hence it is not necessary to add salt or seasoning to enhance the taste.
What is a healthy diet for babies? Here are some guidelines which you can follow in order to ensure that your baby inculcates a healthy diet and eating habits:
- In the first few months, baby can be fed solely on breast milk or formula, which will provide all the nutrients needed at this stage. A sign that your baby is healthy, is that s/he gains about an ounce every day till the age of six months, and half an ounce per day till twelve months.
- After the first three months, start introducing new foods into your baby’s diet. Give baby a varied diet. This will teach baby to taste and experiment with a wide range of healthy food. Cereals like rice, oats and barley, fruits such as bananas, avocados, apples, plums, peaches, papayas, apricots, mangoes, kiwis, nectarines and other citrus fruits, and vegetables such as peas, beans, potatoes, butternut squash or zucchini, eggs, fish and chicken can be gradually added to baby’s diet.
- Fruits should be mashed well and strained, while vegetables and meats should be cooked till soft, run through a blender and then strained so that they have an even consistency and there are no large food pieces which can choke baby.
- Introduce one food at a time, so that you can watch out for any allergic reactions.
- Introduce the new foods in the morning, so that it will be possible to monitor baby’s reaction to it throughout the whole day.
- Do not rush baby through a meal. Make mealtime a happy time, talking to your baby, and experimenting with new utensils such as spoons and cups.
- Set regular mealtimes.
- Encourage baby to drink water.
- Once your baby is full, don’t force, coax or cajole her to eat any more.
Foods to Avoid for Healthy Baby
- In the first six months, avoid giving your baby goat’s milk or evaporated milk, or any milk which is low in iron content and which has not been pasteurized.
- Avoid giving baby soda, tea, fruit drinks or other sweet liquids from a feeding bottle, as this can cause cavities later on.
- Avoid giving your baby corn syrup, honey or raw eggs in the first twelve months since they may contain germs.
- Avoid adding sugar and salt to baby’s foods to enhance their taste.